Can a Plea Deal Turn a Drug Trafficking Charge Into a Simple Possession Charge?

If you have a defense that weakens the prosecutor’s case against you, it might be possible to strike a plea deal. Defenses could include arguments that there was an illegal arrest, an improper search, and seizure, a violation of the defendant’s Miranda rights, or some other reason.

You will want to work with a Washington drug crimes attorney from the beginning of your case because some opportunities to raise defenses and negotiate a plea deal could pass you by early in the case. Let’s look at whether a plea deal can turn a drug trafficking charge into a simple possession charge.

An Overview of Drug Trafficking in Washington

RCW 69.50.401 is the statute that addresses drug trafficking in Washington State. This statute makes it illegal to:

  • Manufacture a controlled substance.
  • Deliver a controlled substance.
  • Possess with intent to manufacture or deliver a controlled substance.

If a person complies with Washington laws regarding the “production, manufacture, processing, packaging, delivery, distribution, sale, or possession of cannabis,” they cannot get charged with violating the anti-drug trafficking laws.

Penalties for Drug Trafficking Convictions Under Washington Law

Violations of this law involving some controlled substances is a class B felony, while sometimes, with other types of controlled substances, it can be a class C felony. A person convicted of a class B felony drug trafficking charge in Washington could go to prison for up to 10 years, get fined up to either $25,000 or $100,000, depending on the quantity of the controlled substance, or both imprisonment and a fine.

With such a harsh potential punishment, it would be worth your while to try to beat the charges or negotiate the charge to a lower offense, like simple possession.

Defenses to Drug Trafficking Charges

Drug trafficking cases in our state usually involve large, organized criminal activity involving groups of people operating within a network and handling massive quantities of controlled substances. Let’s say that you got arrested and charged with drug trafficking for simply having some marijuana in your pocket. 

Simply having the weed on your person does not establish that you manufactured it, delivered it, or possessed it with the intent to manufacture or deliver it. An overzealous prosecutor who wants to build a reputation for getting tough on drugs might charge you with drug trafficking, even though your facts do not satisfy the elements of the drug trafficking statute.

If the police violated the 4th Amendment protection from unreasonable searches and seizures by not having a valid search warrant supported by probable cause in a situation in which there was no exception to the requirement of a warrant, you would have a defense. Your lawyer could file a motion asking the court to exclude the evidence of drugs the police seized so that the prosecutor could not use the evidence against you in court. 

These and other defenses could weaken the case against you on drug trafficking charges and make the charges ripe for negotiation to a lower charge or getting the charges dismissed. You will want to work with a Washington criminal defense attorney on your drug trafficking case. Get in touch with our office today.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.